Thursday 19th of May 2022

politics by idiots...


It was 12 years ago on Wednesday that Tony Abbott knifed Malcolm Turnbull to become leader of the Opposition and start breaking Australian politics.

It remains broken.

Mr Abbott and his accomplices so poisoned the well that neither of our major parties can propose rational, efficient climate policy.


In private, off-the-record, there are plenty of Labor and Liberal Party members who know what would best be done for Australia to pull its weight on climate change, to our own and the world’s advantage. But both sides are hamstrung by Abbott’s legacy of “Total Opposition”.

There is no point even considering the National Party – take your pick whether it’s utterly cynical, actually believes half the rubbish spouted by its members, or so used to rorting that it can’t recognise corrupt ownership by vested interests.

And to the extent that they are represented by Zali Stegall’s Climate Change Bill, it seems the wave of community independents are coming up short. Much closer than the main parties, but still short.

Which is why we need to take the same leap on climate policy that we did on monetary policy: Establish an independent expert body with the power to act at a credible distance from the political cycle.

Once upon a time, the Reserve Bank lacked independence. The government of the day could push interest rates up or down to suit its re-election chances – pushing them up never appealed.

That wasn’t necessarily a good thing for the nation. The system wasn’t good for the government either when rates simply had to rise or rose too much – the pollies were blamed for it.

The solution was to formalise RBA independence so that, hopefully, the best course for monetary policy could be charted and the government could blame the RBA if interest rate decisions were unpopular.

We are at a worse point with climate policy than we were with monetary policy.


The Opposition and the government are crippled. Mr Abbott’s legacy of demonising the effective pricing of carbon remains.

It’s writ large in the Morrison government’s mindless “Technology not Taxes” mantra – shorthand for wasteful, third-rate policy that’s more about subsidising and extending the life of fossil fuels than reducing emissions.

And the Abbott legacy is accepted in the Albanese Opposition’s pledge not to introduce a carbon tax.

We’re yet to see what climate policy Mr Albanese will take to the election, but we know that it will be at least second-rate if carbon isn’t properly priced – not just by the prone-to-rorting, inefficient and opaque carbon offset industry.

Rather than pretending carbon pricing can be avoided (even when it’s between the lines of the government’s own modelling), we should be debating the best way of doing it – tax or cap-and-trade, or a combination; a revenue-neutral tax providing compensation for consumers and businesses or one that further accelerates sustainable investment.

But neither side of politics can do that. Whichever side wins the election, if it subsequently moved to do the right thing, the other mob will repeat the Abbott tactics of branding the Prime Minister a liar.

The community independents movement is hot to trot on climate – it’s one of the handful of core issues for them. But they, too, baulk at the “tax” word.

Time to flick responsibility to a credible body that isn’t directly beholden to cheap political tactics.

This is where Zali Stegall’s proposed bill has to woman up and go the required step further.

The bill would deliver a new improved Climate Change Commission, as Mr Abbott’s replacement as the Member for Warringah explains:

“The current Climate Change Authority only reviews the functioning of certain legislation and is tasked to review policy and pathway to lower emissions only by referral from the Minister. This means its functions are limited and historically it has not been utilised effectively.

“The new Climate Change Commission will review policy and report publicly on progress yearly without referral by the Minister.”

But the new Commission can’t initiate policy. Ms Stegall’s bill still “leaves policy making in the hands of our elected Government”.

“Our elected Government” of whichever stripe after May has pledged not to adopt the best policy.

It’s time to give that government some help, to relieve it of the political pain of Tony Abbott’s poison. Empower the Commission to develop and enact relevant policy to the nation’s benefit.

The body would still be answerable to Parliament, as the RBA is. Its members would be appointed by the government – as the RBA board and Governor are, as our Governor General is.

It would help to have a moment’s clarity by our politicians to agree on a bi-partisan basis to such a body. It would also help if COVID-19 simply disappeared tomorrow and I won PowerBall.

But perhaps if several intelligent, genuinely independent members held the balance of power, they could force the next government to act in everyone’s best interest.

And the nation could start healing from a dozen years of Abbott destruction.


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Let's not forget that Abbott could only destroy the carbon price policy by making a deal with the then PUP (Palmer United Party, now UAP — United Australia Party), populated with SIX idiotic greenhorns. Clive had chosen well and had greased the deception with free trips to the USA, etc... Palmer also acted as if he did not like Tony Abbott, but most likely they were in the same bed, effing each others with love... The only decent greenhorn left, now an awakened force to be acknowledged is Jacki Lambie. I have the feeling she has a few regrets about this time in her life, when she had been deceived by Palmer...



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the fearless dinosaurs...

Businessman Clive Palmer says he's "reluctant" to run for federal parliament again because he's got a new boat and has faith in Craig Kelly to lead the United Australia Party.

The former federal MP said the party he founded is now the largest in the country, with 70,500 members, and that it's growing at a rate of 500 a day.

"We've now become the undisputed, largest political party in Australia by membership ... it's really an unprecedented situation," he told reporters on the Gold Coast.


"A lot of these people are former members of the Liberal party, and the Labor party, and the Greens. They are realising Australia needs a new direction."

Unlike other political parties, UAP membership is free.

Mr Palmer said UAP would stand candidates in every lower and upper house contest at next year's election but indicated he won't be among them.

"I'm very reluctant ... because I've got a nice big boat that's coming to Brisbane. I want to get out and go fishing and stuff like that, plus I think I've got less to offer in the future."

He said newly-appointed leader, former Liberal MP Craig Kelly, was the one to take the party forward.

"I'm 67, he's in his mid-50s. He's got the vision, he's got the character and I'm certainly there to support him with our assets, with whatever I can do, to give him a fair go."

Mr Palmer, who has refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, denied the UAP was an anti-vaccination party despite Mr Kelly's history.

Mr Kelly quit the Liberal Party and moved to the crossbench in February after he was criticised by the prime minister for spreading misinformation about vaccines and alternate coronavirus treatments on social media.


Mr Kelly has also weathered bans from Facebook for peddling misinformation, and is facing potential legal action from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which accuses him of misrepresenting its data on vaccine reactions.

Mr Palmer said he would be willing to get vaccinated in seven to eight years, once there was long-term "safety data".

"Yes if there's been properly run trials, but there hasn't been at the moment."

He said his party was challenging the way governments have responded to the pandemic, by locking people up and sending businesses to the wall.

"There's a whole idea to set up a precedent based on fear, and what's the fear?" he said.

"When you look at our total number of people that die of diseases every day, it's a normal occurrence in the circle of life. It's not something that's out of control."


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